Richard Silvester
Richard Silvester

February 20, 2013

As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Sometimes though, a picture might not be enough.If you put your work buddy to the ‘water cooler test’ posing the question of what they think an infographic is, it would be a safe bet to expect the common response to conjure up static information design. Many of us aren’t even aware that across the web, there’s a whole archive of beautifully crafted information videos, ready to whet your appetite. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)Some great information design work has been produced in video form –  not all receiving the recognition it deserves.  Visual.ly is well renowned for its static infographics, but the site plays host to more than 500 motion videos. From historical timelines to explainer videos, there are countless possibilities when it comes to the world of animated information.Many people trace the roots of info-motion videos to film title design, and a name that appears constantly whilst one is searching for a motion graphics history lesson is Saul Bass. Bass is most well known for his title designs on films for Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorcese, amongst others, his credits including PsychoThe Man with the Golden Arm and North by Northwest. Bass revolutionized film titles from being a list of names, turning them into fluid, effective sequences, and he is now recognised as perhaps one of the foremost motion designers ever.Coming back to the current day, one of our personal favourite motion graphic designers is Jonathan Reyes. He designed one of the examples below –The Economy of Coca Cola – one of a number of ‘Economy of…’ videos for Bloomberg, all of which showcase in our view outstanding info-motion design work.We’re going to have a look at a variety of standout examples here, starting with some timelines.

The timeline format is perhaps one of the most popular forms of information-based videos – there are countless examples of these across the web, some good, some not so good. Timelines can be great for representing legacy and growth amongst other facets, with graphics and visualisations presenting interesting stats, facts and stories.

Economy of Coca Cola:

As with any good information design, the data is key, something which this video demonstrates perfectly – not only are the stats and facts included interesting, but they are contextualised and made much more manageable and understandable for the audience. An example that stands out from this video is: “1.7 billion servings of Coca Cola products are consumed worldwide every day – enough to fill more than 240 Olympic swimming pools or circle the Earth five times.” This sort of data is vital in the creation of a top-class info-motion graphic.

History of Canadian Whisky:

This example sticks in the memory because of its iconic, symbolic illustrations – their simplicity means the video itself has clarity and is easy to follow and understand. The visual style is prominent keeping it on-brand and in-style.

We’re big fans of Andy Kirk’s ‘Explain, Explore, Exhibit’ principle, and certain examples below showcase this very well. The following hits the Explain bucket:

History of The Internet:

The History of the Internet video is a prime example of how an info-motion video can condense a serious amount of information into a manageable timeframe, with clarity and the ‘less is more’ approach once again a key factor. Giving a detailed, engaging explanation of the Internet in less than 10 minutes is pretty impressive.

The data is key in all three of these examples. Using this, info-motion videos can also be real eye openers, as Oil’d shows:

Oil’d:

This video uses effective contextualization of data, hitting the second of Andy Kirk’s data visualisation principles – Explore. Along with the big data used, which opens the viewer’s eyes on the subject, it is also making you look at the situation from a different perspective – turning the situation on its head – you start to think not about the effect that the oil spill has had, but the damaging effect the oil could have had had it not spilt.

The visualisation of the information in these videos is also vital. Take the following, for example. Duolingo have used the simple iconography, but the clarity it offers is second to none, and the message of the video could not be displayed any more understandably. (It’s also the third of Andy Kirk’s categories – Exhibit. We LOVE this:

Duolingo:

Another interesting point to take from the Duolingo example is the voiceover and background music used. The voiceover has a calm yet authoritative tone, which fits perfectly with both the mood and style of the info-motion piece itself, and also the background music.

In terms of putting the information videos together, Adobe After Effects (sometimes referred to as “Photoshop for film”) is perhaps the most popular program, while Apple Inc. Motion, a part of Final Cut Studio, is a recent arrival. For anybody wishing to produce a motion video, Visual.ly have a good, simple, easy to followguide of the basic process, from the initial concept, onto scriptwriting and storyboard, all the way to the audio and animation.

To finish, we’ve got an info-motion video that really does tick all the boxes: interesting, shocking information, smooth and effective transitions, excellent animation and motion work, and everything else in between. The subject matter detailed in this video is perhaps the greatest talking point, but that’s why it’s so good – it opens your eyes to something that, once hearing about, you won’t believe you weren’t aware of before:

Stuxnet:

What information videos have you seen that explain, explore or exhibit?